Published: May 5, 2014
DENVER - A different team and a new season has made all the difference for Jordan Lyles.
Lyles pitched effectively into the ninth inning, Troy Tulowitzki homered twice, and the Colorado Rockies beat the Texas Rangers 8-2 on Monday night.
Nolan Arenado also homered to extend his hitting streak to 25 games. It is the longest in the majors this season.
Lyles (4-0) stole the spotlight from his teammates with another outstanding performance. He came to the Rockies from Houston in the offseason, where he had a career ERA of 5.35 in 72 games and 65 starts. After Monday's gem he's carrying a 2.62 ERA in seven starts, three of which have come at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
"The biggest thing is making better pitches when guys are in scoring position. I don't know the numbers but I can figure I wasn't too good in the past," he said. "That's the biggest key."
He also got plenty of offensive support.
Tulowitzki, who was named the NL Player of the Month for April before the game, had his first multi-homer game of the season and the ninth of his career. He hit a two-run shot off Texas starter Martin Perez in the fifth and hit another two-run homer off reliever Shawn Tolleson to give Colorado a 7-1 lead in the seventh.
Both homers came after Drew Stubbs had doubled.
Tulowitzki had a chance for a third home run when he came to bat in the eighth but he walked.
"If there was a good pitch to hit I was definitely going to offer," Tulowitzki said. "You do think about three home runs but it's not like I was trying to go deep, I was trying to put together a good at-bat."
It was more than enough for Lyles (4-0), who came within three outs of the second complete game of his career.
He had struggled in six previous starts against Texas but held the Rangers in check a night after they had 14 hits and nine walks in a 14-3 win over the Angels. He worked out of trouble in the third and the Rangers' first run came on a ground out to shortstop in the sixth.
Texas had runners on first and second in the eighth but Lyles got Josh Wilson to ground into the third double play of the night to end the inning.
"He was not the same guy we faced last year," Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos said. "Today he was keeping the ball down and getting ground balls."
Manager Walt Weiss sent him out for the start of the ninth but Lyles left to a standing ovation after giving up a leadoff single to Adrian Beltre.
He allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out five in his longest outing since throwing a complete game against Milwaukee on Sept. 30, 2012.
"He threw a heck of a game and it was a way to try to reward him for what he's done and show confidence in him for what he's done," Weiss said. "I told him it was going to be a short leash sending him out there."
Perez (4-2) struggled for the second consecutive start after hurling 26 straight scoreless innings. He allowed five runs on seven hits over five innings. In his past two games he has been touched for 13 runs in 9 2-3 innings.
"When he made a mistake out over the plate, they made him pay for it," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He's only human. He's going to have some starts that don't go in his favor."
Perez had not surrendered a home run for 46 innings dating back to last season when Arenado went deep on him in the second.
After Carlos Gonzalez led off the second with a double to left, Arenado drilled a 93-mph fastball into the tunnel in left field to make it 2-0.
It was Arenado's sixth of the season and fourth during his streak. The hitting streak is the second-longest in Rockies history.
Gonzalez made it 3-0 in the third when his ground out to first scored Brandon Barnes.
Notes: Rockies manager Walt Weiss appealed an out call at first base in the second inning and the call was reversed upon review. ... Tulowitzki hit .364 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs in April. The only other time Tulowitzki won the NL Player of the Month award was September 2010. ... The Rockies selected the contract of RHP Nick Masset from Triple A and optioned INF Ryan Wheeler to Colorado Springs. ... Texas will send Robbie Ross Jr. (1-2, 3.86) against Colorado's Juan Nicasio (3-1, 4.19) on Tuesday.